South Korea. For the first time in ten months, South Korea and North Korea held bilateral talks in May with the only tangible result of South Korea donating 200,000 tonnes of fertilizer to the North Koreans. At a later meeting, at ministerial level, Seoul promised food and energy assistance to the north. In August, 150 South Koreans had to revisit 200 relatives from the north after just over 50 years. In the same month, 40 other split families could see and talk to each other via video links at the border. According to countryaah, Seoul is the capital and one of the major cities within the country of South Korea. More than 10,000 people had returned to relatives on the other side of the border since the historic South Korea-North Korea summit in 2000. Millions of families split during the split of the Korean Peninsula in 1945 and during the subsequent 1950-53 war.
- Also see abbreviationfinder.org for how the acronym KR stands for the country of South Korea and other meanings of this two-letter abbreviation.
Six-party talks between Japan, Russia, the United States, China, North Korea and South Korea on Pyongyang’s nuclear program resumed in the summer after over a year’s pause. In September, the countries presented a series of promises; Among other things, North Korea promised to scrap the nuclear program, allow UN inspections and follow the non-proliferation agreement. However, the North Koreans refused to stop developing nuclear energy for civilian use, which strongly questioned the effect of the promises. South Korea continued to promise energy assistance.
South Korea’s sensitive relationship with Japan was reminded in March when authorities in Japan claimed a disputed archipelago in the border waters. The South Korean government warned that Japan’s claims “seriously damaged” relations, and in Seoul protests erupted near the Japanese embassy. In the same month, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun demanded that Japan formally apologize for the colonization of the Korean Peninsula 1910-45 and consider paying damages, including to the Korean women who were forced into sex slavery. Japan believes that the matter was cleared up when the peace treaty was concluded after the Second World War.
Industry group Daewoo’s founder and former manager, Kim Woo-Choong, returned to South Korea in June after six years on the run. He left the country when his business empire collapsed, leaving over $ 70 billion in debt. Kim Woo-Choong was arrested immediately upon arrival in Seoul, suspected of fraud and later indicted. For decades, Daewoo and Kim Woo-Choong were the very symbol of South Korea’s rapid economic growth. The industrial conglomerate, the country’s second largest, collapsed during the 1998-99 Asian crisis.
In January, 40 protesters barricaded themselves in a house in Seoul in protest of the fact that 10 of them had been put on the streets as tenants and had been deprived of the right to compensation. After 25 hours without negotiations, 2 anti-terror commands and 1,600 police officers attacked the building. 5 protesters and 1 policeman were killed.
The state put 1,258 protesters on the indictment bench for participating in demonstrations in 2008 against the state’s removal of import restrictions on North American beef. No police officers were put on the charges bench despite extensive police violence against protesters.
In September 2009, President Lee appointed Chung Un-chan as Prime Minister.
Also in September, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling that President Lee’s amended Assembly and Demonstration Act violated the Constitution. Lee had modified the right of demonstration to be banned after sunset and before sunrise. It is contrary to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly and association. Since his accession, the president has curtailed freedom of assembly and ordered the police to step forward against all government-critical protests.
In late March 2010, a South Korean warship burst into the air in international waters off the coast of North Korea. After a few days of guessing about the cause of the explosion, President Lee declared that the ship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo. Both South Korea and the US took the opportunity to sharpen the confrontational course facing the North. However, the South Korean authorities made the mistake of exhibiting the torpedo that was supposed to have blown up the South Korean ship in the middle. The pictures showed a torpedo in very good condition with a straight center shaft. It reduced the government’s credibility in the claim that North Korea should be behind. North Korea refused to have any share in the episode, pointing instead to the fact that the United States has historically often been behind its own attacks, as a pretext for military escalation against its counterpart.
In November, the South Korean right-wing government launches a provocative military exercise a few kilometers from North Korea. As in other high-tension security crises throughout history, the exercise aims to provoke and test the North Korean defense. North Korea responds again and shoots the South Korean island, Yeonpyeong with artillery. The United States backs South Korea and sends the aircraft carrier George Washington to participate in the South Korean military exercise in the Yellow Sea. North Korea is holding back from responding to new South Korean provocations. In mid-December, South Korea conducts new military exercises up the border with North Korea, but this time too, North Korea refrains from responding to the provocation from the south. The right-wing government in the south has for three years laid the policy of relaxation between the two Koreas in the grave.
At the start of his tenure, President Lee initiated his so-called 747 economic policy. Average annual economic growth during his reign was to reach 7%, Korea’s annual per-capita GDP to reach US $ 40,000, and by the end of his tenure, the country would be the world’s 7th largest economy. There was an economic crisis in between and by the end of the period none of the 3 targets had been achieved. At the same time, his administration was plagued by corruption charges, and the popularity therefore plummeted in recent years.